Yup, it's that time, reflect on the year and all that fun stuff. So with that, the milestones!
Act 1 Released
Ah yeah, this was the best and craziest thing. There I was, making some last minute changes to the Steam Store settings, two days prior to launch, plenty of time for some more testing, when I accidentally hit the Publish button. Immediately it went into the Steam featured new releases list and I wasn't even sure the Steam repo actually worked on all platforms yet! Eep! It was bumpy, but hey - we learned, and thankfully it was all more or less good, bar a few fixes to the soundtrack DLC.
Being a bit of a niche product, we turned to bundles for additional income and exposure. We've pretty much been in every darned bundle ever, with three more to follow. Generally I would not recommend bundles for most developers. If you can manage without them, it's probably best to wait until your game hits the infamous "long tail".
Act 2 and Vignettes
Two vignettes out thus far, another following soon. Development of Act 2 has gone at the pace of an elderly snail, since I'm still working the ol' day job, but it's progressing. There are a few key differences between Act 1 and Act 2. The most obvious is the structure. There's a bit more freedom of movement in that locations will unlock based on what you know, and you will need to travel to these locations to progress the story. However, this means the checkpoint save system is useless, so a simple autosave is used. I'll rethink Act 1's "chapters" once it's all done. Most of the remaining mysteries are revealed in Act 2, and I am reeeeally looking forward to showing what's in store for you in Act 3!
Say hello to Iain! In order to lift some of the weight of the artwork off Josh, we're splitting art work into background art (Josh) and character art (Iain). This presents a tiny problem though. We're not using a standardised art style like anime, so there's a certain amount of art shift that can be expected. With this in mind, some of the characters in Act 1 will have to be redrawn. Some folks might be opposed to this, but ya know what - it's going to look great and allows us to put more emotional variety in the character art! Will try and show off some hopefully not too spoilerish stuff soon. In the mean time, here are some concepts as a tease.
We have some music to share with you too, but will post that a bit later - stay tuned!
We have just released the second vignette, "Suspect". Steam users will no doubt already have seen the update. The Humble builds should be updated soonish too.
To recap: Vignettes are short mini-episodes intended to fill in the gaps between the release of the remaining acts. Their purpose is to flesh out the world outside of the protagonist's story a bit, and to add a bit of flavour.
In this release we also updated the version of Unity3D to a more recent one. This introduced a few bugs that we hopefully fixed. As always, if you find anything, let us know!
I have taken all of next week off the day job with the intent to wrap up development of Act 1. If all goes well it should be done within the next day or two already, and following some testing it'll go out to backers and pre-orderers shortly after. Then I plan to get the Steam release done and dusted. Yay? No pressure... gulp. It's not the easiest thing in the world to stay motivated/energised while working a day job with a monster commute twice a day. It's amazing how much we managed to accomplish during those first two backer-funded months, versus how slow it went the months afterwards. On the other hand, during winter time, my "productivity" usually looks like this (there are three on me right now):
Oh hmmm, you know in Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader keeps changing the deal with Lando Calrissian? Done some thinking about pricing and release. It's uncommon for episodic games to sell on a per episode basis. So it has been decided (lest there be an outcry too loud to ignore) that we'll be lowering the price that it would have cost for all three episodes, but dropping the ability to buy per episode. In addition, we'll make sure that all backers and pre-orders will now be getting the full three episodes, without having to pitch in a penny extra.
With the release so close I'm starting to wonder/worry about other stuff, like how the game will be received and how to accurately describe it. I don't consider it to be anything particulary new/original, yet none of the genres I attribute to it seem to fit right. At the heart of it, it's a hypertext game, but with fancy painted art, effects and 3D graphics. "Twine game with moving pictures" is not a good genre description though, so I'll stick to "first person point and click adventure". The type of game that inspired it are slideshow-style titles in the vein of Dark Fall: The Journal and a hidden object game called Drawn: Trail of Shadows but what we ended up with is not quite like either of those.
Length is another thing on my mind. I have not the slightest idea how long this will take to play through. I know how long it takes me to play through it, but as I have learned with the demo it varies a lot between different people. I have seen people play through the demo in anything from 15 to 30 minutes. So ok, let's compare.
Full game: 30
Full game: 28
What does that tell us? Absolutely nothing! Getting back to it then...
- Jaco G
It finally happened, we squeezed through the crowd and managed to get Greenlit on Steam. For those who backed our Indiegogo and who pre-ordered through our Humble widget, this means you will all get Steam keys in addition to the Humble DRM-free keys. In general we would like anyone who owns the game to be able to play it wherever they want, so if we ever do an Android or console (heh, no) port, we'd like to try and get keys to existing customers for that too. If stats interest you, here's more or less what they looked like on the final day.
The game is 99% content-complete now, with work beginning on second-pass writing and final polish. Not going to try and estimate a time since I obviously suck at that, but needless to say we would like it to be soon. Hang in there just a little while longer!